Salem Residents Celebrate 247th Anniversary Of Leslie's Retreat

Photo: Brooke McCarthy/WBZ NewsRadio

SALEM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — People gathered in Salem this weekend to celebrate the unofficial beginning of the American Revolution.

O'Neill's Irish Pub in Salem was filled with the sounds of people talking and music consisting of traditional Irish songs and 18th-century tunes as residents gathered to celebrate the 247th anniversary of Leslie's Retreat, which is known as the first armed resistance against British forces by American colonists before the Revolutionary War.

The standoff, also known as the Salem Resistance, happened on Feb. 26, 1775, on the North Bridge in Salem, according to the city. The British had sent Colonel Alexander Leslie and 300 other soldiers to North Fields to seize cannons and ammunition from the colonists.

The people of Salem gathered at North Bridge to prevent the British from seizing the weapons and managed to hold them off without shedding any blood. The standoff ended in a compromise between Colonel Leslie and the colonists.

Stacia Kraft, the co-chair of Leslie's Retreat celebrations, said it's an important moment in the city's history.

"It's a very proud moment which kind of balances the shameful moment of the witch trials," Kraft said.

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Leslie's Retreat happened only a few months before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, which is why some refer to it as the unofficial beginning of the American Revolution. Kraft said this yearly event will help more people recognize Salem's lesser-known claim to fame.

"It's starting to mean something," she said. "I think it got lost for a long time and people are now starting to understand it."

WBZ's Brooke McCarthy (@BrookeWBZ) reports.

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